Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Six Little Girls

There is a sheen of glitter coating every surface in my house. Every time I attempt to dust it away, the air is filled with disco lights twinkling everywhere. I live in my own personal snow globe. I blame the tweens.

Friday after school, an entire herd of hormone-addled little girls descended upon our meager little home. The house was so nervous it trembled under their footfalls. 

Six little 11 and 12 year-old girls giggled and screamed. Six little girls went to run errands around the property when one could have gotten the job done. Six little girls shared secrets that were not for me. And still, I tried to hear them. They ran in herds through the mist in the woods, but their ruckus broke through all of it and the entire Pacific Northwest heard the tell-tale sounds of a slumber party. 

Makeup and cupcakes and secrets are passed around at a breakneck pace. Glitter is applied to lips, cheeks, hair and carpets. The girls make their own pizzas and ask for wifi passwords and hug and giggle--no time for crying or whatever the hell these girls do when they aren't giggling or applying makeup. 

Six little girls walk the fine line between their childhood and becoming women. 

I watched them with intense curiosity. My ears strained for every hushed syllable. Let them be, I kept telling myself. Just let them be. But I simply couldn't. They are at this magical time in their lives and they want to be older--to act older and be taken seriously from the world that wants to keep them children for as long as they can. 

In the world, their names and faces are just a handful out of millions in their same age category. In the world they are just statistics. But it's the statistics that keep gumming up my brain. One in three girls....

One in three girls will experience some form of sexual or physical violence in their lifetime (mostly occurring between 15 and 25). One in 14 girls will become pregnant while still in their teens. One in four girls will not graduate highschool. 

I look at these bright-eyed and hopeful little girls and I think about these numbers. I don't want to see these beautiful babies as just statistics. I want to see their futures with as much optimism as the next. Just let them be our babies for a little bit longer. Just let them be wrapped up in our community with as much love as they will tolerate, and then just a little bit more.

The cacophony whirled about the house and just when I thought I might become deaf or overdose on fingernail polish fumes, my support staff arrives. Like the magi, three women walk through my door bringing hair tinsel and henna and glitter and adult conversation. 

In an instant, the night took on a different purpose. These fairy Godmothers--business owners and artists and performers--began doodling on soft and young skin, creating glittery rivulets of color. They tied hair tinsel into each hormonal mane. The grown women did not whisper. We spoke loudly and with clarity and unapologetic truths. We talked about art and new projects and travels all around the world. We talked about complex relationships and identity. The little girls' ears did not have to strain, but they listened. 

They listened to the experience of strong women. They listened to testimony from women who had risen from the trenches of adolescence. They listened to our dreams and our accomplishments. At least, I hope they did. 

These women rescued me. They offered so much more than even the six little girls will ever know. What my friends gave the tweens was strength, caring, and example. My sisters acknowledge that it's community support that can help fend off dire statistics and came together to assist the little ones in their own personal emergence. 

So maybe these little girls won't become globetrotting entrepreneurs. Maybe they won't be artists. It's not our job to tell them what to do. But in modeling the idea of a strong and independent woman, we've given them a little more of what they need in life. 

For now, we can't do much for them. We can just give them love and let them be. 

Painting is by Libyan artist Awad Abeida 

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